The following is a rough transcript which has not been revised by The Jim Rutt Show or Gregg Henriques. Please check with us before using any quotations from this transcript. Thank you.
Jim: This is part three of my conversation with Gregg Henriques around his new book, A New Synthesis for Solving the Problem of Psychology in Addressing the Enlightenment Gap. Just so you don’t think he just made this stuff out of fresh air, Gregg is indeed a professor and core faculty member at James Madison University’s Clinical and School Psychology Doctoral Program. As we talked about in the first two episodes, this is really a ridiculously audacious book, right? As regular listeners know, I read books of arbitrary depth. I just don’t care. I read the 3,000-page Iain McGilchrist, The Matter With Things. It was a very good book by the way. But 3000 pages, that was a lot, even for me. Bobby Azarian’s book, The Romance of Reality, the recent one on Emergentism by-
Gregg: Brendan Graham Dempsey?
Jim: … Yeah, Brendan Graham Dempsey, another deep. I mean, I read lots of deep books, right, but this one takes the cake. I mean, every time I read this thing, I can’t believe he’s pulled another, not just a rabbit, but a bear out of a hat. It’s hilarious. That’s why I decided to break this thing up into three, but let me say the last third is about as deep per chapter as the first two. It’s just a mind-boggling accomplishment.
Gregg: Thank you very much, friend. I’m enjoying sharing it with you.
Jim: And of course, I don’t agree with 100% of it, but that’s all right, but in general, I love the thrust of it. Anyway, I actually applied some of it this morning, actually. Which is central to the book is the concept of justification, right? The language games that humans play with each other, but not other people by the way, not apes, not whales as far as we know, but human persons, we’re always justifying. Anyway, on one the esoteric mailing lists I belong to, there was somebody, came up with a hilariously, I thought, powerful phrase, which I then repositioned into a mental judo move, which is, “Whenever you hear the word justice used in a propagandistic or ideological sense, change that word in your mind to justification,” and it breaks through. It’s like hitting a glass window with a sledgehammer.
For existence, the U.S. Department of Justice, when you reframe that as the U.S. Department of Justification, it makes it really clear that the 100,000 words of the legal code are some arbitrary attempt by somebody to explain why you should do X rather than Y, and may or may not have anything to do with the actual deep concept of justice. The other one that’s also very mind clearing is when you hear people talk about social justice, right, which is almost always used in an ideological and often propagandistic fashion. If you turn that into social justification, it utterly becomes crystal clear what move they’re trying to make. People out there, adopt this. A guy named Joe Horton came up with it in a slightly rougher form, but I saw it, and with Gregg’s lens, I immediately said, “Here’s the move. We’re turning this into a mental judo play.” When you see justice, if it smells even a little fishy, which it usually does, unless it’s a book by John Rawls or something like that, then just switch it in your mind to justification and it’ll be much easier to see what’s actually going on.
Gregg: Lovely. I’ll make one quick point on that is, actually, that’s exactly the way you want to start training yourself to see this process. It’s easiest to see it through the motivated reasoning lens of other people. Look at that justification. Actually, as I talk about it in chapter on Justification Systems Theory, there’s actually another layer of that whereby the book that I am writing is framed as a justification system. Okay? I’m, actually, going to embrace the sophisticated analytic version of that. Plato for a long time gave us a theory of knowledge. It’s called Justified True Belief. That is, you have beliefs, there’s truth, and then the concept of justification is actually the analytic concept that legitimizes actual justification of analytic claims. Actually, the word justification goes all the way to rich analysis of the deepest claims we can make, like E=mc2 potentially, and to defensive rationalizations of bullshitters. That’s one of the cool things about it.
Jim: The power of the lens. You can apply it on many levels. You mentioned, use the lens to look at the justified reasoning of others. I’d suggest it’s even more powerful to turn it on to justified reasoning of yourself.
Gregg: Amen, exactly. I’ve done that a lot and it’s humbling as hell, Jim.
Jim: Well, I try to do that. I find that my own stuff, yes, it has a certain quotient of bullshit, despite the fact that I try hard for it not to, but that’s human nature. Anyway let’s move on to the next big idea in the book, which is your Behavioral Investment Theory. Take it away.
Gregg: Lovely, and I really appreciate your comments from before in terms of, hey, we probably should have foregrounded some of this. What is Behavioral Investment Theory? People will often talk about the brain as the organ of behavior. I invite us to say the brain and nervous system is really the organ of behavioral investment, and actually it then connects to the body. The body’s the mechanism of behavioral investment, at least the neuromuscular structure. What we have here in the Cambrian explosives we started to talk about before in terms of mindedness, we’re now going to ask, “Well, what is a complex adaptive minded system fundamentally about?” Well, it’s got to take in resources. It’s got to act on those resources. It’s got to avoid, say, predation and other dangers and toxins. It’s got to move towards the good. Of course, even bacteria do this, but it has to do it when we’re at the animal stage with a complex neuromuscular body, a segmented body in a centralized control center. Well, what is it actually doing? The argument is it’s got to compute the activity of the animal as a whole and move it in different directions.
Behavioral Investment Theory is the idea that the nervous system and brain is an investment value system. It’s calculating work effort based on cost benefit ratios as it plans potential paths of investment, then selects the best path of investment ultimately. That’s the basic architecture of it. It says this is what is going to be the functional structural organization of animal mindedness. I talk about its components, like the six core principles, but I’ll pause there, see if you have any questions or if you just want me to go into the six principles, I can.
Jim: That’s exactly where I was going to go next, which is the six principles. Take it away.
Gregg: Basically I’m going to zoom all the way back and look at evolution, cognitive behavioral neuroscience, developmental sciences and animals, etc. It’s really focused on animals, understanding what gives rise to animal mindedness. The argument is, if you zoom back, there are six core principles we can see. The first is the principle of energy economics. We are complex adaptive systems that are far from equilibrium. The pressures of entropy are always working against us. We need work effort structures that enable us to maintain our organization. Fundamentally what the second law of thermodynamics is and work, like Prigogine and others on dissipative structures would say, “I’ve got to bring in work to do work. There’s a balance flow of work effort, and this is the principle of energy economics.” It’s the first basic principle, and it’s the idea that basically we got to engage in effective work effort. Second one’s evolution.
Jim: Let me just jump in there. My good friend, Stuart Kauffman, always likes to bring the lens to everything in biology that everything has to make a living. Right? If your out-gos exceed your in-gos, you die, basically. That’s the hard nose version of energy economics. Onto the next one.
Gregg: Okay. It also connects to Friston in some ways, free energy principle, and he’s got an interesting place on that, but I’ll go on to evolution. This is basically, where’s the architectural design emerging from? I don’t mean that, of course, in intelligent design. I mean the process of natural selection operating on genetic combinations through multilevel selection processes as a basic model of evolution gives rise to a particular species level architecture. Jim, you and I are hominids, and we’re prepared to come in the world in a way that’s radically different than dung beetles, and that differential preparation is a function of evolution. The second principle is behavioral genetics. You and I have different parents. There’s a population of a genetic pool. Behavioral genetics says, “What is the specific unique location that you have, and what are the individual differences in your behavioral investment system?” For example, like personality traits, we briefly described, are you high on extroversion, low on neuroticism? Individual behavioral, genetic differences will play a big role, not a only role, but a big role in that. Those are the first three.
Jim: A quick distinction between evolution and genetics for our folks.
Gregg: Right. When we talk about evolution, I’m talking about the generalized selection pressures that give rise to the species general form, so us as hominids. What makes us different than dung beetles. Okay? The principle evolution could be applied to why you and I share a lot in common. The principle of behavioral genetics would enable us to say, well, because your parents had a particular behavioral genetic disposition, you had a unique genotype, I had a different genotype, and that’s going to prepare us genetically to be different. The principle of behavioral genetics is what is individual differences that arrive out of differences in genetics within a population. Does that make sense?
Jim: Of course, that is a famous rabbit hole of argumentation around the nature versus nurture question, which we’ll get to later, but let’s move on to the fourth principle.
Gregg: Okay. The first principle is the principle of neuro computational control. I call this the weak neurocognitive functional position. Basically what this means, and I talked about it a little bit and we spoke about it last time, that the nervous system is a hierarchically arranged computational control system, a cybernetic governance function for behavioral output, and we can analyze the neurocognitive structure through recursive neuro computational control. John Vervaeke’s work is going to plug right into that concept, very, very powerfully recursive relevance realization. That also bridges to the fifth concept, which is learning, and this is the process by which behavioral investments evolve over time. We can use a basic learning arrangement from the history of psychology, like associative learning, operant learning, vicarious learning. There are a lot more sophisticated models, and we can pair them up with things like deep machine learning and neural nets, but this is essentially how the history of experiences shape the development of new behavioral repertoire.
Jim: Yeah, one thing I’d like to insert here, it’s something that’s not nearly as well known as I would like, but I think it should be, and that’s the idea of Baldwinian learning, the idea of evolving the capacity to learn in specific context or specific things, and that links evolution, genetics, and learning together in a very interesting and generative fashion. In fact, I fooled around a fair bit in my work in evolutionary computing to attempt to produce an ecosystem that forces Baldwinian learning. When you do, it’s amazing the bootstrap that occurs.
Gregg: Now, that’s totally true, and I’ve heard you talk about it in various concepts of the book called Cognitive Gadgets that basically explores the way we can build models and then exact them, which is basically the evolution of evolvability in our learning. It’s a super important part of learning that is underdeveloped in terms of its focus, because it really gives rise to explosion, combinatory explosion possibilities. Then the final is just life history, developmental stage theory. All this basically says is the preparation for behavioral investment is going to correspond to the development of an animal’s life history, so as an infant, it’s got to solve certain problems. As young, it needs to solve problems. As an emerging adult, it needs to solve problems as an adult, and then as you die. Depending on whether you’re the beginning of life or end of life, different kinds of behavioral investment paths are available to you and you’ll calculate them differently depending on the life stage that you’re in.
Jim: Sorry. Now, why don’t you take that and think of animals as functional behavioral investors?
Gregg: Lovely. Yeah. Basically now what I want, to look around and watch what animals are doing, they’re engaged in a sensory motor looping structure, and you can watch where they trial their intention, what they try to achieve in the world, then depending on what the consequences of those are, will either pull their investment further and further or will cause them to redirect their investment, pull away from and redeploy it another way. For example, if I have fish in a tank, okay? When I come in the morning, they’re not very excitable, I turn on the light, they all of a sudden get all excited. Why are they doing that? Well, it’s a signal for a new opportunity for food. They’re getting their system activated, then they’re going to want to acquire the little food that I put in the tank. That’s one example that I use just as a very simplistic level of thinking about animals as behavioral investors.
Jim: Okay, let’s next go through the BIT, the Behavioral Investment Theory and the evolution of mental behavior in four stages. This brings it down to more course grained level, which might be helpful for people.
Gregg: Exactly. I argue that if you just zoom back, I’m not the only person to say this, I acknowledge Dan Dennett, who basically made the same claim. Aunger and Curtis make a similar claim. These are behavioral, Dennett is a famous philosopher look and tracking of mind. The animal behavioral researchers, Aunger and Curtis make this basic argument as well, so I’m not the only one to say this, but the argument is that the patterning of behavioral investment evolves from reactivity and mostly reflexes and pre-programmed procedural responses into learning, into thinking, and then ultimately in humans into talking, so we’re going to give a very course grained description. Let’s talk about reacting. When you look at, say, like a sea slug, Eric Kandel won a Nobel Prize in physiology for studying the basic architecture of the way a sea slug habituates or sensitizes. Essentially what you have is a sea slug, it’s a withdrawal reflex, then what he analyzes is the process by which that withdrawal reflex would either habituate to a stimulus. What that means is the threshold for being activated increases, so you need more and more, so the system’s not responding, it’s habituating.
Or, does it get increasingly sensitive to reflex, which means it’s more and more ready to fire off. Notice, a reflex doesn’t change its response, but it sensitizes itself or habituates to the triggers that does. That’s a pretty reactive structure, reflexive structure, not a lot of mindedness there, but fundamentally, the argument is that the sensory motor looping starts with reactivity. A slightly more advanced time of reactivity would be the deployment of an automatic fixed action pattern. We see this in lots of animals. They come prepared to respond to the world, like they look at things, like digger wasps that build little mud huts, if you just set them up for a particular stimulus and release them, they’ll release an active program on the world and build a little nest, and you can set them up to release that, so this is a fixed action pattern. That’s a reactive layer, and that’s the argument, is that the first layer of the nervous system essentially comes online with that. Then you get a much more dynamic learning, what I call sometimes the operant experiential layer.
This is the way an animal will really adjust its responses based on consequence. The argument is that with the Cambrian explosion, we get brains and complex active bodies and an online learning system. What. I mean by that is an operating on and in the environment with a dynamic participatory recursive relevance from John Vervaeke or a behavioral selection, operant behavioral selection angle from BF Skinner. I argue that to understand this computation, really think about the way the animal’s perceiving its exterior environment, getting reference in relationship to its interoceptive state, then energizing proprioceptive responses, which is basically the action structure. This creates the dynamic operative learning feedback, sensory motor loop of much more complicated active animals. This would go all the way from insects and crabs into then vertebrates, like fish. Now what the animal is doing is engaging a much more dynamic reciprocate feedback loop and reinforcement to shift its behavioral repertoires is emerging. Then, what we’re going to see is the capacity for more computational power to simulate possible consequences, possible behavioral investment, then you’re going to get a bigger cortex.
There is layers of cortex even in fish and stuff, but then it’s going to really grow. The argument here is what it’s doing is it’s simulating paths of behavioral investment. A rat runs down the maze, you can actually observe this with neuroimaging, and it’s going to simulate left versus right. What’s most optimal in terms of cost benefit? As it runs a simulation path, then it’s going to choose one or the other. This is what I call the deliberative planning mechanism, and we can just shorthand that as thinking animals. They’re simulating that structure, and that affords all sorts of cognitive complexity. Then ultimately, we’ve talked about this in one particular area. You get the talking mechanism, especially code of plugged into the left hemisphere, and that’s us and what we’re doing now.
Jim: To integrate across your models, I’m going to put some words in your mouth, you can spit them out if you like, which is the reacting to learning phase corresponds to mind one while the thinking phase corresponds to mind two, and the talking phase corresponds to mind three. How’s that sound?
Gregg: That sounds really good. I will say then when we get in, if we do mind two, I think there’s a base of sentience that maybe go into the learning phase of mind two. That’s a possibility. We don’t know that, but yes, that’s a wonderful alignment.
Jim: All right, sounds good. Now, you then create a looseish framing on this that you call the P – M => E, Learning Control Theory.
Gregg: Exactly. What I see the animal having to do in the learning structure is having to measure the exterior environment and coalesce, integrate across sensory modalities to get a picture of the animal environment relationship. We call that perception, okay? Actually we can access that through just our pure awareness. The animal’s basically going to get a ground of its model of where it is in the world and what’s relevant, and coalesce that together to get an operative. Perception then is the perception of the exterior environment in relationship to the animal. Interior reception is you’re checking what you need. Are you thirsty? Are you hungry? Are you horny? It’s gathering all of the signals from there, and that gives rise to the motivated drive state. What this is going to do is it’s going to prime the animal to move toward the good, approach motivation, and move away from the bad. These elements are plugging then into the energized motion, and we then see a general distribution of the affect system in terms of positive and negative affect. Positive, meaning, “Hey, approach, that’s what’s good, and avoid that, what’s bad.” You feel positive affect there.
If you trying to avoid what’s bad and you can’t, you feel negative affect more and you have to get out of there, and it presses you that way, that’s energized motion in the proprioceptive embodiment. What the basic argument is that this gives rise to a control theory formulation, that perceptions are referenced against goal states, the difference between them. The dash can be really thought of as an informal minus sign, like, “Hey, where are you relative to where you want to be?” That relationship then activates energized motion. Then, how that unfolds activates more feeling, so if you get hungry, you want to go get a food. As you approach that food, the relationship reduces. You’re approaching the goal you want, you feel positive affect as you approach the goal you want. On the flip slide, if you all of a sudden see a bear, you want to run away from the bear. If the bear is gaining on you, it’s reducing the discrepancy of something you definitely don’t want, like getting eaten, and that activates your negative affect and the drive to get the heck out of there.
That’s a basic schematic of how a P – M => E formulation works.
Jim: Yeah, it’s interesting, and if I were framing this, I might instead of emotion, use valences as a somewhat less loaded term, but on the other hand, as you get up higher in the stack, then it becomes something like emotions, right?
Gregg: Right. Emotion. Totally, like so many words, emotions have so many different… I then try to emphasize what I’m really talking about, emotion, E-motion, which is the original element of the word energize motion, so valence is exactly right, then it energizes the affect system to approach or avoid. We can get into the meaning of emotions down the road, but that’s really what I’m pointing to.
Jim: If we try to think back to more primitive animals, valence is some signal that says good or bad, it may not have any feelings associated with it. Then there’s of course a nice rabbit hole of emotions versus feelings, which I’m always happy to go down to, but we should probably skip for today. The other one, however, I’d love to get your thoughts on this, is even in humans, we have reactive states that seem to shortcut emotions, valences, motivations, everything. The example that people I’ve talked to, very good cognitive scientist people, give is a ball unexpectedly coming straight at your face. Right? That actually doesn’t even go through the visual stack. I didn’t know until he told me this. Visual feeds from your retina, go to the thalamus first, before they go to the V1, V2, V3 visual processing stack, and there is some side circuitry right out of the thalamus that says, “Oh, fuck,” something coming right for your face. You don’t think, you don’t have any emotion, you just react.
Gregg: We would put that in this model through the stimulus response reactivity first layer. There are stimulus response reactivity. Another simple example is if you touch the stove, it’s on, and you touch it, you’ll close a stimulus reflex loop and pull your hand away before you feel anything. It’s exactly same thing. It’s just a closed reflex loop that we have, so that we can actually operate on the world in real time. If it took three and a half seconds for you to pull your hand off of a burning stove, not good. If it took three and a half seconds for you to dive away from a baseball, not good. There’s a lot of stuff that’s operating on a reflex of time mode.
Jim: Of course that fits into your overall narrative, which is it’s always important to understand that we talk about Mind One, Mind Two, Mind Three, we are all three. We’re not just Mind Three, and to your bigger theme of trying to sort out psychology, that always has struck me as one of the problems of psychology is that people, they get too stratified in those layers, when in reality all of them apply all the time. Right?
Gregg: 100%, Jim. Great point.
Jim: Now, let’s go on to where you take this behavioral investment theory and use it to frame an architecture of the mind, the human mind. Let’s be specific here.
Gregg: Right, which it builds off the architecture. Essentially what the human mind architecture is it’s a schematic that includes on the outside of the bottom are salient control variables. That’s the view of a behaviorist that looks at it and says, “From the outside, what changes that are operant and that are serving as control factors for future investment of behavior, that there’s an input, output circle?” There’s an input into sensation, then there’s that fixed action pattern coming down to motor response. That is the reflexive loop, and that’s the first layer. The second layer is then senses are getting integrated into perceptual holes. These are then referenced to the integration of the interior receptive motivational states, then they activate energized proprioceptive potentials in the forms of emotions. This is the second learning layer. This is then, if we are going to go with John’s recursive relevance realization model, what you’re seeing here is the stacked recursive relevance, realization, framing structure, okay? Then, the third structure on top of that is when we’re going to then simulate behavioral investment patterns.
You’re going to collapse perceptions, motivations and emotions over time, as you imagine what’s going to happen, this is the cortex is integrating. You have a back of the cortex is integrating various possibilities and starting to simulate them. You run through them as planning, but then to do that, you have to inhibit the impulses. So, you see inhibition structures emerging with the frontal lobe, so you can anticipate what’s the best goal over time, then you release those. That’s the thinking structure. Then on top of that, certainly associated in humans, generally with left hemisphere, you get a linguistic comprehensive structure and a linguistic production structure, linguistic comprehension in the back, linguistic production in the front, and then that structures translating into symbolics and tactical. All of this is stacked and absolutely Mind One, Mind Two, Mind Three fits in this, although it’s actually a Mind One model in the sense that it’s a model for me as a cognitive behavioral neuroscience. This was the original structure of the other piece that it does is it just integrates it, pictorially, this with a classic memory model.
The Atkinson badly memory model basically, which says, “Hey, there are really three layers, if we do expand consciousness into time, we could see three layers.” There’s a sensory memory system that’s like three tenths of a second to three seconds. That’s essentially the first screen on behavioral investment. Then there’s a working memory. That’s how you actually hold stuff in thinking space, so this would correspond to the thinking layer very tightly, and this is a 20-second model. In humans, you basically have a whiteboard of images and a whiteboard of propositions. That’s your language and image-based structure and working memory. Then behind that is the storage container of long-term memory, which we can divide into three different dimensions, procedural memories that are releasing particular actions, episodic memories that are perspectival point of view, events that happen to you, and then finally semantic propositional language, which is basically the structure of facts and explicit narratives that you would bring through a self-conscious propositional narrator.
Jim: Interesting. Yeah, and I think the memory part’s one of the things that’s fascinated me the most, right? My own work on what is consciousness and how might we create an artificial one. I focus a whole lot on the memory architecture, and I have a rough sense, that if we ever do solve the hard problem, it’s going to be when we realize that it’s the conjunction of the various memory stacks. Right? You mentioned the first one. I would put one that’s even earlier, or maybe there we’re talking about the same thing, which is the perceptual memory, which lasts on the order of 80 milliseconds, which is essentially the resonance inside the visual, and particularly auditory stacks that keep that flux.
Jim: The visual and particularly auditory stacks that keep that flux, allows it to have an influence for about 80 milliseconds. And I suspect that’s very important for this binding sense that we are a continuous person.
And you can actually break that down into about four pieces and the inner granularity is about 25 milliseconds, and I believe that it is no coincidence that that’s about on par with the video frame rate that it takes to trick our brain into thinking that a stack of pictures is actually video.
You hook all these memories together, and always keep in mind they’re talking back and forth. For instance, working memory. Very important to realize that things like episodic memories can be pulled into, or at least aspects of them, pulled into working memory.
Declarative memory, which we call semantic memories, you’re starting to think about Paris. Say Paris. Paris is in France. Now both those get pulled into working memory and then that activates other things with branches every which way.
So, the dance between the memories in a dance with perception is to my mind, getting pretty close to what it’s all about.
Gregg: That’s really wonderful, and I’ll just say as a clinician, we’ll work with trauma, trust me, this in terms of intrusive memories and the activation of particularly emotionally strong valances that are difficult to integrate, and then the interface with that at a clinical level is really fascinating.
We don’t need to go down that rabbit hole, but I’ll just speak to it as a clinician, that happens. It’s a really important, powerful dynamic to work with.
Jim: Yeah. Then I will also just push back or actually ask a question because I was up to speed on this about eight years ago, but not so much anymore. And that is, you mentioned the image scratch pad for working memory, which seems well-supported, and I can give some mind experiments for people who don’t believe it, and the second one you described as propositional.
My understanding is that the second working memory is essentially almost pure auditory and isn’t actually propositional, that something else is handling the propositional layer.
For instance, one of the classic examples of working memory and its limits is that you remember telephone numbers and you remember them in chunks, but it seems the data is actually auditory, not the proposition That’s going on somewhere else.
Gregg: Yeah, and I probably misspoke. I would certainly say linguistic is the better word to use there. All of these things that you’re raising, I’m not a memory scientist expert by any stretch, and all of these things that you’re raising are what I call the rich details.
What I am trying with this whole book is get the optimal grip of what it is that affords us the capacity to then ground cumulative knowledge and then into the right level of specification. And you’re bringing up a lot of wonderful specifications that I think would be congruent in the model I’m specifying. It just affords a lot of more richness and detail, which of course is what science is all about.
Jim: And someday we’ll pull all these pieces together and then we’ll know what it’s about, right?
Gregg: That’s what this book is trying to at least get a handle on starting doing.
Jim: And it will do I think a lot to declutter how we think. Let’s go on to the next topic, which we kind of pre-gamed a little bit, which is Mind:2, a subjective conscious experience in animals and humans. We might as well go down that rabbit hole.
Gregg: We’ll go down that rabbit hole. One thing I will say about Mind:1, if I go back to… I want to mention this about the architecture. It’s got a basic memory architecture.
One of the things that I like about it also that I think in terms of a broad thing, is it grips very nicely with the best work we have done in adult intelligence. So, the best models of adult intelligence, or the best assessments are Wechsler scales I would argue. They give rise to four different domains of intelligent processing, which basically when exposed to novel stimuli, or unusual stimuli, how quickly do you answer.
Those four elements are processing speed, which by the way is sort of the reacting element. Working memory, well, we talked about that, how flexible is that in terms of fluid intelligence? Then you get perceptual reasoning. That would be the more deliberative thinking in pictures, and then verbal comprehension. Well, that is the network of your justification system and how fluid you can activate that and how rich it is in terms of detail like your vocabulary. So, the architectural mind corresponds really nicely with our best work in intelligence testing.
Jim: Well, that’s a good thing to know. Yeah, because it is interesting. Some people poo-poo intelligence tests, but it is one of the more replicable results that we have in experimental psychology so it is telling us something. So, let’s go on down the rabbit hole. Consciousness. What is it?
Gregg: Oh, God. Okay, well that term has lots of different reference. I’ve already said there’s a super broad reference from the outside functional awareness and responsivity. I want to push that to the side. I then want to say the core of consciousness that I want to at least emphasize here, is the subjective conscious experience of being. This has been identified in the philosophy of mine, Nagle and then more recently Dave Chalmers talks about this in relationship too. What is it like to be? This is a felt experience of what is it like to be in the world.
I talked earlier that this has an epistemological problem associated with it in the sense that you are situated and are thrown into the world from your own first person or first animal perspective, but no one else has direct access at least to this, so it’s subjective, that’s the epistemological and then it’s the felt experience, conscious experience of being in the world. And I’m going to call this as we’ve discussed Mind:2.
Jim: I’m going to read you my definition because I realized I actually was in an email stream with a researcher at MIT two days ago, and I probably stole this partially from you. Part of this is my long-term thinking and that this has been now pushed through the Greg lens. I take consciousness to me in the phenomenological sense of being something or someone a la Thomas Nagle also congruent with Gerald Edelman’s primary consciousness, the kind of consciousness that we share with apes, dogs and highly likely birds and a bit less likely, but I think so, we’ll talk about that in a minute, reptiles and amphibians> Maybe fish too, and then kind of went on from there. So, similar but a little different.
Gregg: Yeah, it’s very, very similar. I used to use the word phenomenology and then John coached me a little bit out of that because of the technical meaning that it can carry, but we’re definitely talking about the same reference there and that’s certainly clarifying.
Jim: Yeah, let me push back on the one technical detail, which is you put in the book, mammals and birds and of course the immediate thing that jumps to mind goes, “Wait a minute, those two are joined one step back at reptiles”.
It just seems mighty odd to imagine it happening independently twice. And guys like Feinberg and Mallet and others argue that you can make a strong case for reptiles and a fairly strong case even for amphibians. It just strikes me as Occam’s razor, a good move to say probably, back at least as far as amphibians.
Gregg: What we get into in the book and then at this chapter is that I embrace the two-step model, what I call a two-step model consciousness, which is very similar. And in fact I review them and I review some more recent work on the sensitive soul.
Essentially what I’m going to say is that sentience, this valence, this experience of feelings in the body is coming online way before birds and mammals and then may even go into insects. I don’t know, I’m open to that.
To me, there’s a layering of a jolt of an early sensory, affective perceptual experience of being. We can see this, I would argue, if we pay attention to our phenomenology in these sort of distant vague valences that our body sends us. And I call that the organism to animal layer.
I think that’s the beginning stage upon which a working memory, thinking mind’s eye that’s then mapped by global neural workspace is going to come online. When I say birds and mammals, what I mean is I’m convinced that the empirical literature shows us that they have an inner mind’s eye.
I’m not convinced, or maybe other people have access to this, I’m not convinced we’ve seen that yet in something like a reptile, but maybe there has been. That’s of the inner mind’s eye structure, which is quite different than the feelings in the body structure, at least in the two steps that I’m trying to get identified in the Mind:2 mapping that I have.
Jim: Yeah, I’ve read some things, for instance take a look at what is the sense of being of a frog, an amphibian before reptiles, and it has a very simple visual system, but it does seem, and people have done experiments by lowering paper cutouts of flies at various distances and stuff, it does seem to have something like a sense of being in the world and striking reactively when something is in their world, which by multiple dimensions can be calculated to be a fly.
But that’s a different story for another day. Maybe if you wouldn’t mind going a little bit because this is new work I haven’t read, but it sounded interesting. Ginsburg and Jablonka’s Sensitive Soul, just a quick gloss on that.
Gregg: They basically are trying to get an argument for what is the emergence of this Mind:2, and they lay out that it’s a very congruent with the unified theory and that is Cambrian explosion. What it really fundamentally emerges is this connection between, they’re arguing, an exterior receptive structure, an interior receptive structure, appropriate receptive structure that affords unlimited associative learning.
Notice ‘learning’, and it’s the integration of PME as one unit that then sends out broadcast to link together things in the world, body states actions that are either positive and negative. They put pleasure and pain as a yoking structure between senses and perceptions, motives and emotions. It’s very similar to the PME.
They argue that it explodes onto the scene in the Cambrian Explosion and it’s these sort of base valent structures that enable an animal to learn new consequences, new behavioral repertoires through unlimited associative learning and they argue that’s probably the base of sentience, evolution of the sensitive soul.
The soul is taken off of Aristotle’s frame, the sensory motor loop inside an animal seen as its animal soul, which corresponds to the emergence of Mind:2, at least according to them and that particular line of research, which I basically, I thought it was very compelling and certainly congruent.
Jim: Yeah, I love the Aristotelian soul because most people probably don’t know that when Aristotle was talking about the soul, he wasn’t talking about some metaphysical thing, or metaphysical in the gym rut metaphysics is bad, meaning.
Gregg: Pure metaphysics. It wasn’t pure metaphysical or just metaphysical bullshit.
Jim: Yeah, it wasn’t metaphysical bullshit. Exactly. All right, I guess I’m going to have to do it. What the hell, right? There it is. The metaphysical pistol, a SP101 Ruger 357 Magnum.
Gregg: It should be now, through the Gregg lens, it’s for blowing away metaphysical bullshit, Jim.
Jim: Yeah, I love it. Yeah.
Gregg: Okay. There is good metaphysics that you don’t want to blow away with a gun.
Jim: God, you guys need to have a new word for that.
Gregg: All right, well…
Jim: When I hear the word metaphysics, I reach for my pistol.
Gregg: Well, I understand-
Jim: And the word bullshit.
Gregg: So, it’s when you hear metaphysical bullshit. All right, go ahead.
Jim: All right, yeah. Where the hell were we? Oh yeah, that the Aristotelian soul is actually a wonderful concept and it’s amazing how well that stood up too, as we’ve learned, because there are some areas where Aristotle was just grossly wrong, such as his physics, but his zoology and psychology have actually stood the test of time tolerably well.
Gregg: Actually I’m trying to revive that, so the scales of his soul, slash the scales of nature. For him, the way I read soul, which by the way, psyche, and in terms of Greek translations, we get into that, I use the word psyche in a slightly different way, but soul, the way he means, is a functional form at the living plant level, which basically means it grows and reproduces and lives and dies.
Then, at the sensory motor looping center, which means it moves around, senses the environment, acts on it, that’s the animal soul. Then the human rational soul, the justifying soul.
His layers of functional form of the soul correspond to living organisms, minded animals who talks language and cultured person in a very, very direct way.
Jim: I’m happy because the world is divided into two kinds of people, those who divide the world in two kinds of people and those that don’t. And I’m one that does, and I have always considered myself an Aristotelian versus a Platonist, for instance.
Gregg: Well, John calls me a modern Aristotle in his little review of the book, I’m happy that’s to say about that. He and I are building bridges between a new Platonic and a new Aristotelian mode of thinking in the world.
Jim: I was going to say, when John says you’re an Aristotelian, that could be considered to be an insult, right?
Gregg: I’ll take modern Aristotle the way he took it in the book. I didn’t experience it as an insult.
Jim: I’m just kidding., John and I have had considerable back and forth on these issues and we have a very nice dance. And of course all things, both lenses are useful, right? More lenses the better.
So now you go into some useful discussion of some of the modern theories of consciousness. Let’s start with the integrated information theory one, and I will point our listeners to, we did a pretty good in depth on this with Christof Koch back in Episode 105.
Gregg: Lovely. Jim. I’d like to make a one real quick point about something I say right before that, and this is about the relationship between George Romanis and Rene Decartes and the concept of mind and in issues of Mind:2. It’s either in this chapter, I’m actually blanking whether it was in this chapter or the next one, but it doesn’t matter. The point of it is, is that Rene Descartes, maybe you actually already covered this, I’m blanking, I’m sorry, argued that only humans had mind, and you can look through the lens and say he’s talking Mind:3 and George Romanis, through mental evolution, was really talking Mind:1 to Mind:2.
My point basically is in getting clear about this whole issue, we can see what people said were totally different, were actually two similar kinds of structures. I had that as a point to make and maybe I already made it.
Jim: No, you didn’t, but I intentionally skipped it, but that’s okay.
Gregg: Anyway, now let’s get on integrated information theory. I love integrated information theory if it’s placed in the original box as it is, which is basically this question. What is necessary? What kinds of structures are necessary for phenomenology? That’s what Tononi was actually asking. And what you actually need.
What he meant by that is, okay, what is the minimum kind of architecture? And it comes up with an integrated information, which is basically, there has to be a number of different parts that have integrated connections that can then be responsive and recall and functionally adjust what they’re doing. This is the absolute minimum.
And you can get, when you look at the networks of these kinds of things, a mathematical representation of Phi I think it’s called that then basically serves as a quantification of the amount of integrated information and then start to utilize that as an indicator of consciousness.
That starts to get a little tricky, but I love integrated information as giving us a basic grounding, structural functional architecture of what is necessary for phenomenology.
Jim: Yeah, it is interesting, and of course the real IIT fanatics, including Christof Koch and a Koch and Tononi in his later days, go on further in a pan psychic move, which says that anything that has a Phi greater than zero is conscious, including a light switch or a diode hook to a light. I remain skeptical on that.
And a guy named Scott Abramson has done some very interesting work. He’s a mathematician, physicist, cognitive science guy, and he’s come up with some mathematical formalisms that, if run, will generate a structure with a high Phi, but most everyone would agree isn’t conscious at all, right?
I think I’m with you, and I’ve looked at this quite a lot, is that integrated information is necessary but not sufficient to produce consciousness, and if we could actually calculate Phi, which we cannot as a practical matter, then it would be a reasonable scaler on amount of consciousness, whatever the hell that means.
So, I think that when thinking about IIT, integrated information theory, one you seriously consider whether one’s a pan psychic, which believes it is literally a measure of consciousness or whether it’s a measurable attribute of things that have consciousness.
Gregg: I’m totally in that. And I want to guess… You know, Mind:1 gives you a chance of that. Clearly a lot of integrated information is being processed when we would say somebody’s unconscious. Okay, what’s our reference then? So, in other words, they’re unconscious systems are actually conscious? We would have to use that term because they’re actually… And it’s like, well, it just does get kind of fuzzy. But bottom line is why don’t we just go with, “Yep, I’m in agreement”.
Jim: All right. Let’s move on to one where I think you find more utility in your actual work, which is global workspace theory. Again, those who want to learn more about that, we had Bernard Baars who’s the original author of Global Workspace Theory on in Episode 108.
Gregg: Absolutely. And I love the global neuronal workspace extensions that were given onto this. It seems enormously plausible. I love a lot of the experimental research. I know some people don’t like the spotlight metaphor.
In the global neuronal workspace, the argument basically is this. The metaphor of what is, it revives, which is an old metaphor, the Theater of Consciousness metaphor. The argument is, is that there’s an intentional spotlight of some kind that brings into awareness out of a whole multiple possible areas, basically through a top-down versus bottom-up matching process.
So, there’s a whole bunch of possibility sensory information that could be available to you. Then there’s a directed top-down, and that creates a broadcast network pretty similar to having a stage whereby that is actually akin to your working memory. There’s a lot of shit that’s going on backstage. Those are all the sort of architecture of Mind:1, and there’s a lot of shit in the audience that’s listening or waiting to see what comes on.
I give the analogy of it’s like there’s a competition of a talent show. Who has the most important, coolest thing or most biggest surprise thing or what’s most relevant to what I’m concerned of, that will get under placed under the spotlight of attention.
There’s working memory, you can move around. There’s shit backstage. This gives the basic structure over it. I think it corresponds with a lot of brain networking theory. That’s what global neuronal workspace shows. It corresponds with a lot of phenomenology and I think it’s a pretty powerful, and of all the basic models of sort of human Mind:2, I think it is the ground of the best general models.
There are a lot of variations on this, and I’m not committed to it rigidly, but I do think it’s a great heuristic frame.
Jim: I think it is important to know that it is a heuristic frame. In fact, Bernie Baars himself makes it very clear. He makes no claims about understanding the neural supports for this or even if there are any, right? He finds it as a descriptive model that is useful, and I think I would agree with him there.
Gregg: Right. Well, that gets us to exactly the definition of the hard problem and we can reference that. But anyway, certainly I understand when we’re dealing with these kinds of issues, we got to be clear about our heuristic models relative to what we’re actually claiming.
Jim: We talked a little bit about the hard problem last time, but let’s do it again. You can never talk about the hard problem too much. Why don’t you frame the hard problem for the audience?
Gregg: Right. I actually argue there’s a couple of different facets of it, but the most grounding clear facet is we have Mind:1. We can see what a nervous system is doing. We can imagine what gives rise to functional awareness and responsivity from the [inaudible 00:45:14]. We can build drones and other mechanical shit that gives rise to how systems engage in functional awareness, responsivity, et cetera.
But then there’s this whole issue of how the hell, when you open your eyes, you’re thrown into the perceptual world. And then your first reaction, well, we know a lot about that. Don’t we know that your occipital lobe is related to vision and can’t we track all that shit?
And actually what we know about are neurocognitive correlates. We can then say absolutely this kind of activity is associated with your phenomenological experience. We can get into some pretty tight stuff. I think global neuronal workspace does really good tight neurocognitive correlates, but if you ask us what’s the neurocognitive causation, the underlying neurobiological mechanism that give rise to specific forms of felt experience of being, we do come up pretty empty there.
We don’t know why the neuron’s arrangement in the occipital lobe as opposed to the auditory cortex gives rise to the feeling of sound versus sight. We don’t have any idea what the mechanisms of experience are at that level of specificity.
Jim: I wouldn’t quite say no sense, but we don’t know much, right? As I like to point out, we’re probably about where biology was in 1850. I love the analogy. In 1850, life was this mysterious thing and people were not at all sure it was of the same realm or an emergence from physics and chemistry or whether it was something else.
In fact, there was a concept called Elan Vital, which was kind of this whatever the magic of life is. And then gradually in the late 19th century and more decisively in the early 20th century, the light came on. Aha, there is no magic in biology in life. How we got to life is still an unanswered question and one we’ve talked about in the show a lot, but it’s now pretty clear that life is an emergence from biochemistry and then so the mystery evaporated.
I have long hypothesized that something similar will happen to consciousness and we may not even talk about consciousness in 50 years, just like we don’t talk about Elan Vital anymore in biology, but at this point we don’t yet know how it all works.
Gregg: I’ll just point to Dan Dennett in Consciousness Explained, does give a really nice, in my estimation, unsuccessful, but a very important perspective on how to blur the nature of that problem in a way, is like what are we really saying is the problem? It’s a good set of questions.
Jim: Exactly, though he does get it wrong, which is why I think it’s so funny that he calls the book Consciousness Explained.
Gregg: Explained away. He forgot the last word. He explained it away.
Jim: Exactly. I know Dan and I like him a lot. In fact, I should have him on the show. But yeah, I found that to be very interesting about debunking the Cartesian Theater, but the rest of the book I would significantly disagree with.
Also, I should point out a coming attraction. Anil Seth will be coming on in a couple of weeks and he does a deep dive into the hard problem. He redefines it as a not so hard problem, but not quite the same as Chalmer’s hard problem.
Now the next big idea, when are these damn big ideas going to stop, goddamn it. You’re hurting my head here, boy, is what you describe as UTOK’s fourth key idea, which is the influence matrix.
Gregg: That’s right. This is an idea that goes all the way back to the beginning. I built this, I think I narrated in the first part. My first set of ideas was this justification idea. But this justification idea emerged in tandem with the idea of the social environment, the social problem of justification. How do I justify myself to you and how do I take your perspective and wonder what you’re going to do in relation? So I called it the self other problem of justification.
What I argued is justification’s coming out of us. We were navigating self other dynamics way before and have a primate motivational architecture often referred to as the primate heart to navigate the social environment.
I was embedded in social psychology, personality theory, motivational structure, and through that lens, I basically came up with a model that said what are we actually navigating when we are engaged in the perspectival participatory, to use some John Vervaeke’s words, activity of relating to other people.
And what the influence matrix says is that what we are tracking at a process level is our felt sense of relational value and social influence. So, in other words, do you see, know and like me? That’s my felt sense of relational value. Do I have influence over you in terms of can I move you in accordance with my interests? And then, how are you going to move me in accordance with your interests?
This becomes the central black line dynamic. And if we can engage in liking each other and mutual, we’re going to have a positive or reciprocity. If all of a sudden one of us or both of us are engaged in the reverse, that’s going to create tension in one of us or both of us. So, the core of the influence matrix says we’re tracking relational value and social influence. And then you ask, “Well, how do we actually do that?”
Well, it says there’s three dimensions of process, which means that as things unfold, these are self other dynamics that are reliably patterned. The first is a dominance submissive. Who’s on top and who’s underneath in relation? And this can be either in direct control, in a forced way, like a master/slave, or I can look up at you and say, “Jim, you’re great at this. I’m going to follow you. I’ll submit to you voluntarily”. But nonetheless, there’s a rank. There’s direct and indirect elements of rank.
The second dimension is connection through affiliation. I’m going to share your interest. We’ll have mutual sharing of connection. The opposite of that is hostility, where you split interest and say you’re a threat of mine. This is called the love dimension. The first one’s the power.
And the last issue is how involved am I going to be? How much do I need physical and emotional support from you? This is the more dependent side versus, “Hey, I’m on my own. I can do my own thing”. That’s more autonomy. This is called the freedom line.
And the fundamental argument is there’s a process unfolding that our primate hardest tracking on the core line of relational value, social influence, and then we’re tracking competition, cooperation and freedom dynamics in relation. And that’s the basic core of the influence matrix’s motivational structure.
Jim: There’s all kinds of good stuff in the book. And just to make sure that we don’t haven’t lost the audience, this refers to the Mind:3 level for humans, right? This is a human thing basically.
Gregg: Let me be clear. It’s actually, and it sets the stage for Mind:3, it is different in humans, but it’s being mediated largely by Mind:1, Mind:2.
So, in other words, just take it… When I say your primate heart, Jim, my heart’s been broken. How do you feel in your body? Right? It’s like, “Oh, I feel rejected. I feel…” Or do you feel loved? You feel that, you don’t necessarily need propositional knowing for that.
Jim: True dat, as they say, right? A study guide to the audience. When I got into the section on the influence matrix, it was so detailed and was so interwoven with the men-
Jim: Detailed and was so interwoven with these dimensions that Greg just laid out that I found myself reading with two hands. I was reading the text on my Kindle and I pulled up my Kindle on my phone and pulled the figure 14.2 of the influence matrix so I could get the blue, the black, the red green, what the hell? And of course, even worse, my Kindle is black and white. So it was nice to be able to see it in color. And so when you’re reading chapter 14, consider pulling up the influence matrix diagram on your phone while you’re reading on your Kindle, or even if you’re reading in a book.
Gregg: I confess that’s got both a lot of detail and I move very fast through it.
Jim: But it’s all really interesting stuff, so it’s well worth reading. Now you’ve referenced him multiple times, which is John Vervaeke and you go into considerable detail in reconciling the Utah argument with Vervaeke’s vision and you start with Vervaeke’s 4P/3R, Meta Theory of Cognition. As listeners know, we’ve talked to him Vervaeke quite a bit, had five two hour episodes with him starting in EP 1 43 and we had him on recently along with Jordan Hall. So Vervaeke is a guy we know fairly well. So Ty, your work to Vervaeke’s and start with 4P/3R.
Gregg: Lovely. So the 4P/3R is John’s Meta Theory of sort of what do we mean when we talk about cognition. The 4P cognition can mean two different things. Many actually more than that, but two big differences to know and then to think and to be aware. It also in psychology then reduces to the cognitive revolution and then the neurocognitive information processing architecture. So that becomes, when you talk about cognitive neuroscience, you’re talking about the information processing architecture on the one hand, and then of course to no means, hey, do you know who’s president in the United States or whatever. John recognizes these are two sets of different questions, much like I’m doing. You take it a big picture view, make sure we’re not equivocating, know what our terms mean. The four Ps, which John talks about repeatedly, are as follows, and I’ll start at what I would call the basement. For me, the basement’s procedural knowing. John and I talk a little bit about this, but procedural knowing is the deployment of particular kinds of recipe actions that are stimulus chained together, they can then give rise to recipe actions like doing a heart surgery.
So you procedural knowing turns into skill-based stuff, but in terms of our embeddedness, it actually embeds in our fixed action patterns when we do it over and over. Then you have perspectival knowing. That is the knowing from behind the eyes, the salience landscape, the integration of various perspective to see what’s both salient, to presence yourself in relationship to the environment. And that’s tied to our episodic memory. The third is propositional knowing, and that is semantic, propositional things like do you know this fact? And then how do you justify your navigation? So propositional, perspectival and procedural are threes that organize with the memory systems and directly align. The final one in many ways is most interesting to me, I think is it is arguably the deepest in some ways this is participatory knowing, and this is really John’s baby as far as I’m concerned. What the participatory knowing structure is doing is it’s mapping the identity of the agent arena relationship.
It’s the self world grip. Do you know who you are as an identity relative to the world’s identity and do you know the right grip? Participatory knowing is that capacity. When you are in a groove, you get into flow when you’re not, you feel awkward and arguably that’s going to organize the embodiment. When John’s doing his after Socrates, I think he’s really elucidating that the dialectic into D logos is actually core structure of participatory knowing one’s placed in the philosophy world of living and finding meaning in life. So those are the four participatory, perspectival, procedural and propositional. They line up very nicely. Participatory was new to me, and I think John is bringing it to us and I think it’s a beautiful thing. And that’s all about the different forms of how and how you demonstrate knowing in different ways. Finally, the Rs, that’s a model I called my model, a weak neurocog model.
It is basically a computational model. John’s recursive relevance realization brings a structure is that’s a three Rs. So recursive refers to a modeling structure. Relevance refers to the frame of what isn’t ought to be. And realization means you can understand what’s in that frame perspectively or perceptually, and then act on that to realize your goals or construct what you want to do. He plays off the word realization in two different ways there. So recursive relevance realization is a wonderful structural, functional architectural model of what’s happening in the computational control system. So we get a model of cognition and a model of knowing neurocognition and knowing three Rs, neurocognition four Ps give us a model of knowing and it’s a beautiful taxonomy and metatheoretical structure that plugs right into talk.
Jim: Yeah, why don’t you do the plugin?
Gregg: So the plugin basically when I built behavioral investment theory, I was saying, okay, the animal’s going to frame different paths of investment and it’s going to have a perceptual structure or motivational emotional structure that’s useful. But the question really is what’s the fundamental architecture? Well, John’s recursive relevance realization says actually what’s happening is there’s a whole bunch of heroics that will pull together to give us a relevant framing of the structure. So that’s novel. That helps specify the kind of architecture’s going to enable an animal to make a path investment. Then it’s going to see what’s in that frame, realize what’s in the frame perceptually, and then realize action. And then finally, recursive really refers to the expansion and hierarchy, both horizontal expansion across different modalities, vertical expansion say across the learning thinking and talking layers potentially, which would be a hierarchical. So the recursive relevance realization plugs right into behavioral investment theory.
Now, I ended up putting this in the chapter on the influence matrix, okay, because when I built the influence matrix, as a clinician, I’m much often focused on motivation and emotion. Perception’s important, but I’m thinking about what are the drive structures? What are the feeling structures as a person engages in the world? And I then mapped the influence matrix based on how I saw people tracking self-other dynamics and what their motives would be and their emotional responses. What that means is it’s really an architecture. What I built then was an architecture for the valuing process of relational processes.
So what it says is that these should be the systems that are framing relevance in realization, in relationship. And then when I put it that way, John, giving them a perceptual cognitive structure about how what’s going to be detected, I built a valuing structure and then I could realize that actually John’s model fits exactly with what I’m saying and we can put it in real time and that people can then be seen as recursive relevance realization systems in relationship to each other on these dimensions of process because you have to add the content, but you have to add on these dimensions of process so you get a really beautiful fusion. I add the fourth R then when we’re talking about social relations in human, it’s recursive relevance realization in relation across a self other system of interaction mapped by the influence matrix.
Jim: Yeah, I love the relation edition because then you are pushing into the interpersonal realm. You have a hook into the interpersonal realm. Now the other thing that you have worked on with John, as I believe is a video called the Elusive Eye. And you’ve talked about it in a couple of places I think. And one of the things that you surface in that is the witness function. I know John talks about that quite a bit.
Gregg: Absolutely. Yeah. So actually John and I, one of the things that I’d really like to make you under, where do you find this guy off the street mate? One of the things that’s super important, I’ll say with me and John’s work is, as far as I’m concerned, Jim, as far as I know, we should look for this. This is the best integration. Me and John’s work is the best integration of two independent meta theories. Like I would argue that what we have shown John and I together is armed two meta theories are unbelievably synergistic and complimentary. I don’t know that that’s really happened before. Certainly not in the cognitive, psychological social sciences. That’s a good question. John and I have done four different video series on transformation, on psychology, wellbeing, on consciousness, and then this one on the elusive eye that we did with Christopher Master Pietro, 12 part series I think it was.
And what it is what is the self? What fundamentally is the self? And we built off of the work on consciousness, which we did. We basically built a recursive relevance realization model where the focal recursive relevance realization is a way to combine global neuron workspace and John’s work, and that gives rise to the inner mind’s eye. And then we were talking about, what actually is the self okay? And what we then explored in that model is the way in which first all modeling is self environment, but as you extend get into thinking animals, for instance, what you’re doing is you’re simulating passive of investment down different possibilities. While the environment will change when a rat comes to a both it left and right’s a different environment, but what’s consistent? The consistent is a model of the self.
So what emerges in thinking animals is an inner concept and not, I don’t mean a explicit self-concept, but what I mean is a model of the self across a wide variety of different elements. And this becomes a potentially model structure that I believe really pops when we get to the influence matrix because then we’re going to model ourself in relationship to others in the world. And so you have this internal simulating modeling structure where you’re got a model of the self on the world that’s different than the self world model and simpler structures.
Jim: Okay, well, let’s pop on back up to your influence matrix. And you make the point that the influence matrix has a grip on a number of things around psychology, like trait theory, effective science, attachment theory, et cetera. Why don’t you do that riff for us?
Gregg: Okay, very good. Yeah, so if we were to look at the basic structure of the influence matrix, you see something pretty clear. On the lower left-hand side you get a lot of negative affect, okay, that’s focused on bad scenarios of in hostility, shame, low relational value felt sense of dependency. Okay, nested in that then is the sensitivity of the negative affect system to vulnerability. And I will argue that that cluster corresponds enormously to what we call trait neuroticism. It’s the felt sense of, oh God, I’m vulnerable, I have to be self-conscious. I have to anticipate. The flip side, the upper right-hand side is a seeking social engagement that has potential for positive affectivity and reward. This is going to be very close to extroversion. So this basic extroversion trait is where you tend to reside in the upper right-hand quadrant versus lower left-hand quadrant being neuroticism.
And then through the middle you have this affiliation line whether you’re trying to have love, you go along, get along, connect with other people, or you’re disagreeable that says, “Ah.” Okay. Now with the agreeableness, I really try to emphasize there’s two elements. There’s interpersonal style, how assertive and disagreeable are you? And then there’s motivational structure. How much do you really care versus not? These things can be quite different. You can be a grumpy old son of a bitch that really loves people. You can be a polite individual that actually is almost sociopathic, but fundamentally the agreeableness has a politeness structure to it, a motivational, it’s mapped by the line, the red line across. So we can place the big traits of trait theory inside of this structure. When we think about traits, of course we’re talking about the dispositional tendencies of individuals across those dimensions.
So that’s one example. Another example that I’ll quickly state is like if you learn anything about psychodynamic theory, you’ll come into people. Somebody like Karen Horney. Karen Horney took some of Freud’s stuff and argued that fundamentally there’s a basic anxiety in people, which essentially is the felt sense of threat of being loved. That would be the basic anxiety would be the lower left-hand quadrant felt sense of low relational value, low social influence being rejected. And then what she argued is that some people get rigid in their strategies. She argued there were fundamentally three different kinds of strategies. One was move against for power, another was move toward for love, and a third was move away for freedom. Well move toward, move away, move for… These become psychodynamic structures. The last thing I say, and I could go on, is that ultimately what I’ve located in the influence matrix is a bridge between two huge theories of social interaction.
One is attachment theory. And anybody that knows sort of John Bowlby, he took an ecological perspective, meaning an animal behavioral perspective. Imagine there was a control system between offspring and parents and argued that there was a proximity attachment system where the young is trying to maintain contact and checks in with the adult. And if it feels like it’s seen, known and valued by the adult, it feels secure. If it feels not seen, known and valued, it will feel insecure. And then it develops different kinds of strategies if it feels insecure.
Some can be hyper dependent strategies and some can be very, very independent. Well, with this, we actually see the black line and the green line mapping by attachment theory. I’ll jump over to the interpersonal circumplex, which was developed by Timothy Leary before he started doing acid at Harvard. And this identifies social dimensions on two ax axis of competition and cooperation. It all organizes a huge amount of both interpersonal and personality dynamics on this power and love axis. And what I’m arguing here is this is the way we navigate, not necessarily originally parent child relation, but the social environment. What I’m arguing with the human structure is that we fused a social navigation of cooperation competition with an underlying attachment structure to give rise to a self other influenced relational matrix.
Jim: Yeah, that last bit was really interesting to me and it really was an aha and good old Tim, Tim Leary. Holy shit.
Gregg: Tim coming the fuck back. Who would have thought that?
Jim: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. All right. Let’s go on for one more application of matrix theory, and hopefully you won’t be burned at the stake by the wokies, but you did a interesting job of applying the matrix to the origin of gender roles.
Gregg: Exactly. So what is a gender role? Gender role says men should be like this. That’s a justificatory role and it’s say John Wayne versus I love Lucy. You watch old I love Lucy tapes and you want to pop gender roles. And everyone says, “Oh my god, there’s a patriarchy. We built gender roles to legitimize the control of men over women.” This happens especially when we get civilization, and I am, my first intellectual awakening is feminism. So I want to be clear that I see the power of gender roles, the power of constructed systems, of justification that place people in roles give them rewards or punishers and channel them. And I do believe that once we had traditional civilization, a good argument made that the gender roles have men afforded them a lot more power, especially in broad structures, and that enabled them to control women.
So let me be clear, I think that’s the basic feminist line is a very important one. But I basically learned when I was an environmental behaviorist feminist that the only way to explain differences, the only proper way was through this learning and justificatory process. And to say anything else meant you were a Nazi. Okay, well, turns out that I didn’t understand biology, I didn’t understand how primates behave, and I didn’t understand the origin of what would actually give rise to very, very different ways of being in the world. And their really good reasons to believe as us as primates solve different kind of relational problems. Okay, let’s think of parenting. Okay? Mammals generally parent through one side of the structure, the female. If you’re a parent, what do you have to do? You have to anticipate, think about, monitor another. So we were females long before we were humans.
The idea then that the female architecture’s more attentive to the other, more oriented toward nurturing, more oriented towards affiliative relational field dependent process, more likely to be a bit on the giving side, whereas the male more likely to be self of the other, anger, dominant autonomous. The idea that there are these basic patterning structures inside of our primate is very obvious. If you trail the evolution of history, we can’t be blind to the truth. I encourage everybody to read Frans de Waal’s latest Differences. It’s on gender from the eyes of a primatologist. And man, there’s a huge amount of gender differences in primates in general. We would expect actually that to be part of our prominent architecture. And when we look through this, we could see the origin of gender roles that justificatory narratives and the tendencies legitimized clearly non randomly associated through this basic primate architecture.
Jim: Yeah, I’ll give you, here’s an interesting empirical datum, in Sweden, probably the most gender egalitarian country on earth. The dominance of males in engineering is higher than it is in the United States, and the proportion of women in nursing is higher than it is in the United States, which is at a minimum, interesting.
Gregg: It’s a paradox. You got to, well, how would that happen and why?
Jim: I think your arguments help understand it. Let’s now move on explicitly to mind three and the culture person blame of existence. Before we do that, though, I tried to keep the review here to a minimum, I figure if anybody has hung on here this long into the series, they’ve probably watched it all. But before we go there, if you could recap the five part map of mind. One, two, three, just quickly.
Gregg: Really quick. Okay, so basically mind one is neurocognitive activity. Mind one A is the information processing within the nervous system. Mind one B is what you see an animal do. The functional awareness mediated through the muscles. So if you take a video of it, that’s what you see. That’s mind one B, mind one a, neurocognitive information. Mind two is the experience from the animal’s eye to the extent that there is one from behind the eye, the experience that is like to be that animal. And there’s just mind two, although we do argue that maybe mind two B could be thought of when you get two relationship people that know each other super well and track their subjectivity.
That’s actually the title of the other mind two B, is that a reasonable concept? That’d be the implicit shared inner subjective reality of related individuals that know each other. Mind three A is your internal monologue justifying what you’re doing in relation mind three B is what you decide to share with others. So mind three is both. Then the propositional, self recursive, justificatory narrative within is the ego or mind three A between us when we could record it and what I decide to share with others. That’s mind three B. That’s through my persona into the public identity space.
Jim: Cool. Great. Good fast job. Now since mine three is about the plane of culture and persons, what’s a person?
Gregg: Good. I argue person’s a particular capacity. I can go to Christian Smith. I also go to Peter Osorio. A person in a nutshell is an entity that has a capacity to be self recursively aware and justify oneself on the social stage. That’s what we would recognize as a person. And one of the things that Peter Osorio made clear to me is that we can see this capacity when we go into science fiction. So for example, I would argue that Jabba the Hut is a person in this sense. He knows what he’s doing with Princess Leia and he justifies, what the hell is he doing? And he has a self recursive capacity, even though Jabba the hut is about the farthest thing from a hominid that you could imagine. He’s a worm, but you could have a big entity that’s a worm if it has this capacity.
So this differentiates person as a capacity from the human being. And I like to say one of the things I’m trying to get at here is what’s the ontology of human persons, which basically means our hominid selves and our self recursive capacity for justifying ourselves on the social stage and giving accounts and taking responsibility for our action.
Jim: You have interestingly, that almost beg for you to create the Henry Kiss test to replace the Turing test whether something’s an AGI or not. It’s a different dimension. There’s so many dimensions.
Gregg: I never had that thought.
Jim: You need to do that. You write some pop articles from time to time. Why don’t you do that?
Gregg: Yeah, I’ll do do the Henrik Kiss test of what’s a person that’s good. And by the way, this is a tricky issue in legal stuff and a bunch of other elements. This is I’d have to tread lightly, but you know me, I’m willing to tackle big issues.
Jim: And of course the obvious implication is that a personhood doesn’t necessarily have to be up the homage tree. It could be artificial, right? That’d be a different discussion for a different day. We don’t have time for that. Okay. Now the next binding you have is you’re building up this model of person cultural plane is what you call the JII dynamic of justification, investment and influence. Paint that picture for us.
Gregg: So we’ve covered behavioral investment theory. Well, this is where work effort, animal structures and it’s being process information across these different lines. We have this influence matrix, our primate heart, which also then means that we’re navigating others or actions are influencing others that, so we’re in a reciprocal relational loop and we’re then nested in a dimension of justification. Well, these are the parts that we’ve delineated well, to actually understand human mental behavior, human mindedness, we need to put them all in action. And so the JII dynamic, so I’m both a theorist, but I’m also a clinician. You come into me and I’m listening to your experiences through this JII dynamic lens. Okay, you’re a justifier. So in other words, you’re explaining what the hell’s happening. I’m wondering what’s privately in your head relative to what you’re sharing with me. You’re telling me about how you place yourself in the world and the impact that that’s giving me a map.
And underneath all of that is an investment vector. What do you care about? What you’re doing? What are you not doing? How’s that system operating? So I’m listening to your story through JII dynamics. I give a story of my wife and I and relationship to, we separated, but my wife at the time was, she came in, she got a little about something, rightfully because I had forgotten something. I then said, “Uh.” I paused. I didn’t know it’ll get guilty or get angry. I have a whole bunch of different associations. I sort of froze and said, “Okay, I’ll get to it.” And then we came and reconciled. So it was of just an example of real everyday life. And I argue that this justification, investment and influence very similar to belief, desire, folk psychology, but it places it in a very much more rich and theoretically grounded and rigorous way. Essentially, I’m trying to get us all to see our human mental behavior patterns through the language of JII dynamics or JII.
Jim: JII dynamics. I like it. Now, one of the things you do point out, one of the well-known lacuna of folk psychology is that very curiously, actually, the folk psychology never really got a grip on the unconscious.
Gregg: Yeah, totally. I mean, if you like, where does this miracle come from? Well, it’s a gift of God or whatever, but this whole issue that you’re thrown into the world and where does that come from? Well now the whole modern angle is sort of like that’s got to come from somewhere. And of course we have non-conscious neurocognitive science and psychodynamic unconscious or subconscious process. But it’s pretty clear if you take a naturalistic view, there’s a huge amount of shit that’s happening by the time you’re aware of yourself in the world. But we better be aware of that. Of course, our name for that is mind one. What’s the ground of all this mindedness stuff. But yeah, it’s a miracle that folk psychology just sits in this experiential to self-conscious realm and never really, or so many cultures what’s underneath that and just sort of were blind to it. That’s a kind of funny fact.
Jim: Yeah, it really is. It really is. And so how does a JII dynamics get a grip on the unconscious?
Gregg: Sure. So what it’s orienting George is the unfolding wave of behavior. It’s arguing that there’s a human mindedness dimension that sits as a complex adaptive plane does things like duck, but actually it’s even more than that. It’s everything that’s mind two and mind three is all nested inside of a mind one process. So this is your cognitive computational structure that we would then analyze and what is the undergirding waves of mechanisms that are now the relationship between mind one, mind two fascinating kinds of stuff, but all of the JII dynamics are embedded in an organism that has a nervous system, that’s an animal that’s investing, that’s the whole eye. It’s really not a consciousness grounded, it’s a neurocognitive activity system. It does say as humans, of course we have a subject of conscious experience of being. If I am justifying to you, Jim, this is what my experience is, this is how my coffee tastes.
I pretty much have to have a mind two. We can get into the zombie problem, but I pretty much have to have a mind two that I’m reflecting on have access to and narrating if we’re just doing common sense, at least human experience. So humans clearly have mind two stuff and then they’re justifying. And what this does is it takes the map of mine places an architecture does allow us to understand non and subconscious experiential conscious, the dynamics of self-conscious and the dynamics of public navigation from within and between people. We can watch their behavior and explain it in terms of JII dynamics.
Jim: And particularly the justification, right? And that’s one of the things that really distinguishes the person from the animal. So that’s where you get in strongly into three, but I’ll tell you definitely take it as given that the three together are needed to get a full picture. But you also lay out an interesting continuum against four functional context of justification. I think this is very interesting. Let’s do that one next.
Gregg: Yeah. So we can think about the structure. I’m arguing the labeling, the structure, and then hey, what is the context in which individuals are operative? When I talked about justification, I said there were really three core problems at least once we started propositions. There’s the truth of them, there’s the personal value, there’s the social value. I have to give credit to Guy Sengstock and John Vervaeke, they actually started the conversation building off my justification, and they heard me and it’s correct where I said, “Gosh, this really puts us in the context of the courtroom.” They use the functional context of the courtroom. This is when other people are challenging your justifications and are potentially punishing you. So one functional context is a courtroom where the society’s coming to you saying, “We’re not sure you’re valued and we’re going to press you.” And to.
Gregg: Society’s coming to you saying, we’re not sure you’re valued and we’re going to press you and to justify your actions, and so you have to be motivated to defend yourself. They then said, we can turn that into the courtyard, where the shift is not so much the motivated structure to punish an individual or set them free, but really motivation is more to explore, what’s in the world, how do we come together, engage in dialogue, benefit from each other in our search for the truth. So this is a safe context in which we’re exploring things. Our explanations aren’t as defensive, they’re more, are we explaining? Are we training each other in the right way? In a cooperative [inaudible 01:18:36]. So you had the courtroom and the courtyard. I love that conversation and then I realized that I could book in that even further with motives. So I then added from the courtroom, where the motive is a social system, to determine the truth so that we determine to punish you.
The con game is where the truth is completely erased and the only thing is to actually get the individual just to believe something that’s totally not true by design, and then manipulate the shit out of them. So the con game is when the social presser from the exterior, the goal state is actually to manipulate the truth completely and create a totally different lie, alternative truth, so the system and the other individual, the victim, behaves in a particular way and you steal all their shit.
The flip side on the other side, we were in the courtyard where we’re trying to learn about stuff but bullshitting and talking and wondering about what’s good for us culturally, perhaps. Then the science lab is actually let’s get rid of all fucking motivation. Let’s get rid of personal and subjective and social value, and at least this is the idealized context of the lab, engage in manipulation of independent dependent variables and develop independent or objective causal explanatory networks that shouldn’t have much to do with human value, that’s a good question, but you are trying to factor out the personal and social values of individuals in groups when you’re doing the science lab. So this creates a four-dimensional, simple functional context from the con game to the courtroom to the courtyard, and then finally to the science lab.
Jim: Let’s make sure I understand this correctly. The courtyard strikes me as a face-to-face community in action on one side, but also could be extended to include things like workplace dynamics, team sports dynamics, et cetera. Does that make sense?
Gregg: Totally. In fact, as I was saying it out I should have given the example I could have just given. Between the courtroom and the courtyard, between those two, you could put the house, like a private social engagement, blah blah blah. So this is not meant to be a complete element taxonomy, it’s just meant to show the continuum as you alter the emphasis on accuracy with science lab down into emphasis on total manipulation. But it’d be really interesting to see all the different contexts of justification and they should be able to be mapped on the issue of accuracy, personal and social value.
Jim: Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. Now, you go there, because one of my favorite topics is the problem of bullshit as a problem of social epistemology.
Gregg: Yep. This actually gets me into connecting with the concept of justification. So on the Freudian side and on the everyday language, that guy’s just justifying he really was guilty, he’s trying to bullshit his way. Okay. So there’s one context in which justification is this element of bullshit, and I would argue if we’re going to bring in actually Socrates here for a second, if you were to argue what Socrates’ fundamental insight was, I would argue that what Socrates is waking up to is the problem of social bullshit. And then what he’s hunting for is refined justification. Philosophy then, fundamentally, is like, how do we engage in self-deception? How do we fail to appreciate our assumptions often which benefit us in the short term, but then trap us, foolishly narrow us? And oh my God, a lot of what we just believe is social conventional bullshit. So the idea of justification system series, yep, there’s an ontology of people to getting together, there’ll be a natural constructive process based on motive, but we can also bring a refined analysis of justification. Indeed, this is what philosophy is, and try to get better and better and ultimately part of that is weeding out social bullshit.
Jim: So we can think of then a system of justification whose purpose is to expunge bullshit, and that’s a very interesting way to frame Socrates, but look what happened to him.
Gregg: Well, but listen, obviously if the system is a bunch of bullshit and those people have power and they’re egoically defensive, good luck on basically making people aware of that. Socrates had a hell of a lot of courage, many of us are like, “Oh, fuck. I’ll just go along with the bullshit.”
Jim: Yeah. John Vervaeke also takes that on as one of his lead functions. As we used to say in business, it’s okay to fool other people, but just don’t fool yourself. All right, so now let’s kick it up a level here, this culture person playing of existence. You postulate four, again, these are grossly coarse grained and I’m going to argue about one of them, four phases of evolution of the culture person playing.
Gregg: Yeah. Let me make a real quick point about the definition of culture, just so that people are listening. So in the book, I distinguish between little C culture, which are shared behavioral repertoires, that’s present in other animals, and capital C culture, which is the taking off of these systems of justification. So when people are hearing me talk, especially mine three and the culture person plane, these are propositional network meaning of culture. I acknowledge very clearly that there are shared behavioral investment repertoires that are present in chimps. I certainly culture in general is clearly a combination of our shared behavioral repertoires, and our justifications embedded in our technologies and our biophysical ecology, in which then I would argue is the assemblage of human society. We talked a little bit about that before, but I just want to make that clear so that people aren’t hearing me when they hear culture, there’s a lot of different possible reference.
So now then, if we then take another super broad zoom, I’d love to hear what you say about this. I’m pulling a lot here from Lene Rachel Andersen, who you had on the show. I think you did two episodes with her. Did I remember? On her recent book, Libertism. Anyway, she did Metamodernity, and took a big snapshot view of the evolution of human culture. It’s important, especially from Lena’s perspective, and I totally embrace this, not to be thinking about these in stage hierarchy terms where one is definitely better than the other and one’s more advanced. There’s some elements, there’s some to that, but we want to be very careful about those and they’re good reasons to be immediately cautious. She is, and I am too. But we certainly can take a general view and argue the emergence of culture starts with an oral indigenous tradition.
These are people in hunter-gatherer scenarios, building rich narratives, living in the land, and notice it’s not written, it’s face-to-face communication embedded in nature, embedded in long-standing communities usually. Of course there’s obviously divisions and things like that, but fundamentally you’re talking about people in groups of 150 to use a Dunbar number and know each other for a long period of time, engage with face-to-face word, and organizing their knowledge systems through narratives about their place, animistic beliefs about the world usually embedded in nature.
Then 5,000 years ago, by 5,000 years ago, we are entering into a traditional formal system. Agriculture’s happened and how that happened, dawn of history stuff, there’s a lot of interesting elements when there’s no straight line. But certainly by 5,000 years ago, big civilizations that are happened, how do you organize them? Well, you need institutional structures that are regulated often through writing and refined belief systems of priests, governance structures that nobody knows, but this gives rise to a meaning not nobody knows. Everyday person wouldn’t have contact with the regulating authority institutional structures of traditional society. We see the emergence in the Bronze Age of one group, there’s a Briggs Bronze Age collapse.
Then there’s an axial age emergence, and many of us now are like, hey, it’s a new axial age time where we’re actually revisiting some of the old traditions of wisdom. Buddhism and Confucianism goes way back, Hinduism goes way back. But these are axial age traditions that we can locate today, and that’s traditional formal justification style. And that’s 5,000 years ago, at least has happened. 500 years ago, we get the emergence of modernity whereby basically there’s a whole bunch of things that are happening. There’s science that’s happening, there’s capitalism, there’s democracy, there’s ideals about, and this of course spreads across the globe and influences the structure of globe, structure of individualism, structure of reason, structure of science. And then certainly by 50 years ago, and Nietzsche may be the first post-modern post-structural philosopher, but you get a post-modern movement, which is critiquing the truth claims, the progress claims, emphasize much more on issues of justice and fairness and care, and also the inability of knowledge systems that give rise to grand narratives that have authority or should justify authority over others.
So you get a modern versus post-modern tension there and the thesis of reason, progress, those kinds of elements. Science is truth, versus the contextualized critique of that and the post-modern attitude. And then finally, perhaps we’re on the cusp of an emergence of a meta-modern sensibility, and then we can talk about that. But I’ll pause there and notice the algorithm 50,000, 5,550. I think that’s a pretty cool algorithm of time in relationship to that, but I’ll pause there and see if you want to push back on anything there.
Jim: Well, you can probably guess where I’ll push back, as I’ve pushed back with Hanzi Freinacht and with Lene, which is, I don’t buy that post-modernism is an epoch of anything like the equivalence to indigenous, traditional or modern at all, because it’s basically started out as an art movement. First time I ever heard about post-modernism was a story in Time magazine in, I think, 1984, where we was talking about the new AT&T building that had a Chippendale top. And I’d never heard the word post-modern, so I looked into it a little bit and I go, okay, bunch of scurry artists, oh well, whatever. And then I also later learned that it was a literary tool called deconstructionism, and perhaps most formidably it was a warning not to take meta narratives as brought down from Mount Sinai by Moses. And those three things, they’re all useful, and there is, I would call it, a subculture of post-modernism, and these are people who go crazy.
They’re the ones that say, “All knowledge is equal.” Yeah, if I got brain cancer, I’m going to go to a witch doctor instead of going to Johns Hopkins. Good luck with that people. I annoyed a bunch of people in the month of January. Yes, I am a disagreeable person and I enjoy it. I posted a series of taunting tweets every two or three days like, “Don’t get a shave from a post-modernist barber. I know a bunch of farmers, I don’t know a single one that’s a post-modernist. Don’t take your car to a post-modernist garage.” And then I think the last one I did was, “I’m flying today. I sure to hell hope there aren’t too many post-modernist aeronautical engineers.” Because if you take this post-modernism seriously, which the few of them that actually do do, it’s just fucking rubbish. You can’t build a society on rubbish.
The first three parts, the art trends come and go, literary tools are literary tools and you use them for what they’re good for, and not believing that the current dogma came down from Mount Sinai with Moses and is unchangeable, very important. In fact, I always say, it’s the gateway drug to game B that humans created all this shit and we can change it and we will, God damn it. I also went through a little analysis with Hanzi the first time I had him on. I convinced myself, and I got him at least with a question mark in his mind, I said, “I very much doubt there’s more than 3% of Americans who are actually post-modernists, and that a third of those are probably locked up in mental institutes.” And so anyway, I pushed back on post-modernism.
Gregg: I want to want to say, I think you’re making a very good point. Post-modernism is of a different flavor than the other three. And really it is best interpreted as a temporary, in the sense that it’s only 50 years, critique of modernity that really should be, I think, thought of as the beginning tipping phase, which is then going to launch us into something new. One thing I will say, Jim, is that I think it is a reasonable thing to say that when I talk about post-modern sensibility, you are pointing to its criticism, which is that it unmoors you in any kind of epistemological claim, everything becomes equal and therefore everything’s fucking… The vulnerability is a chaotic, fragmented bullshit narrative where everything gets flooded. Well, Jim, if we look at our current ecology of culture and the way we’re now, everything is blended together, absent a coherent sense making structure, I would argue that we are entering into what feels like a post-modern, and I don’t mean this to support it, I mean ontologically, we’re feeling like we’re post-modern in the sense where we’re coming unmoored and very confused and everything seems like it’s what’s up and down anymore? Because it’s all just a confusing mass of information.
Jim: That’s why you get a fucking flamethrower out and torch the big am post-modernists, because they’re just bad.
Gregg: Well, that’s one of the things. We do not want to ground the next system in that strong version of that, for sure.
Jim: Yeah. Let me have one more cycle on this and then let’s move on. Which is where I’ve come to conclude that post-modernism fits in terms of scale is something around the scale of German romanticism in the early 19th century, which was a challenge to enlightenment and it had an influence, but it wasn’t a full system. If you’d run a society by the early 19th century German romanticists, we’d all starved in about a year. And then the second one was the surrealist and dadaist and related movements right after World War II, World War, I should say.
World War I was the giant disillusionment. People always talk about the atomic bomb and the holocaust, and those were disillusionments, but the real disillusionment was that the advanced countries of the world could hammer the fuck out of each other for four years, kill 20 million people. If you read literature from 1910 to 1914, nobody imagined that happening and that was the big disillusionment, and reactions were things like surrealism and dadaism, which you could see the effects of both of those to this day, but they didn’t change the system. And again, a world run by dadaists and surrealists, yes, we’d all starve in a year. So romanticists, dadaists, surrealists, post-modernists are all of the same class. Those are not of the same class as indigenous, traditional and modernist.
Gregg: I certainly can get behind your justification system there.
Jim: I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and so anyway, this is my biggest pushback on the meta-modernism. But I do think that the things people like Lene and Tomas Björkman and the Perspectiva folks, and Hanzi Freinacht, and others are pointing to is actually a hopeful vision of the future and our game B movement. While we disagree with some of the details, particularly of the political meta-modernism, I think we consider ourselves good overlap and fellow travelers on the overall vision.
Gregg: And I’ll tell you where I stand. I embrace the term meta-modernism. I do in the book. I like this as a heuristic. I think your critiques are totally, I mean, yes, post-modern is a different kind of thing, but if you pull off the intellectual, academic, philosophical, scientific aspect, I think there’s a very clear modernist line that acclaims reason, progress, truth versus a post-modern critique of that which is the thesis antithesis, and I am, sensibility wise, arguing for a synthesis of both the initial modernist intellectual assertion, the post-modern antithetical critique of that and the coherent synthesis of the two is definitely really what I’m after in my meaning of the term and in this academic sense.
Jim: And as we said before, multiple lenses, generally good, particularly if you have the discernment to know what lens to use for what. Let’s use deconstructionism to deconstruct Joyce’s Ulysses. Let’s not use deconstructionism to design the successor to the 787. So that’s very important. There’s some other things we can talk about, but I’m going to now move to the conclusion. We have about 15 minutes, and I’m going to let you say what you want and in congruence with your last chapter in your book, and I may ask you some questions, and I’m going to leave it open to you now to… What do you want to say about all this? As I said in the opening, this is the biggest God damn pail of ideas I’ve ever seen between two hard covers, makes that dude Kant look like a pussy.
Gregg: Hey, can I put that on my signature line?
Jim: I’ll provide that as a [inaudible 01:34:53] blurb for the next edition of the book. So anyway, have at it. What’s this all about?
Gregg: So basically, the ending chapter, what I’ve laid out is a new vision for mind and psychology that resolves the enlightenment gap and solves the problem of psychology. So what this is is, hey, there’s a mind-body problem out there writ large. I’ll still acknowledge there’s a hard problem of consciousness, but in terms of our basic coherent understanding, nope, I don’t think that there’s much of a problem. I think that this grips the big picture conundrums, confusions that plagued us once we started with physics and there was no way to place mind consciousness psyche into a structure of the world, and we didn’t have the right knowledge, and do so in a way that coherently references our psychic experience of the world. I say in the beginning, the enlightenment gap is between Kant’s epistemology, meaning, oh my God, there’s categories of mine. And in Newtonian ontology, oh my God, there’s matter and motion in the world. The two can’t meet.
I actually actually argue now they can. And basically now what we’ve done is we’ve shown why psychology got dead-ended and then defaulted to methods and why that’s inadequate. We then introduce a unified theory of human knowing that’s got certain core parts. It gives us a picture of science writ large, that gives rise to potentially a new philosophy, a new natural way of understanding the natural world, across energy matter, life, mind and culture with these joint points, and science as a knowing system that feeds back on top of that, I justified it as a new map of big history. Then that extracts out this interesting claim that I’m deconstructing psychology, the science of behavior and mental process, when I’m actually arguing, we got to break this book up into science, tree of knowledge, then comma behavior. Then I argue that actually behavior’s the central concept of science.
And then I did what you said was the most audacious thing is that I actually can build a periodic table of behavior, place the periodic table of the elements and the particles of floor one, elements of part two, then into chemistry. Then we map behavior. So we’ve got science and behavior, and then introduce a new map of mind, 1, 2, 3. And then to argue for a meta-theoretical structure for mindedness, behavioral investment theory, relationships and the influence matrix justification. And then finally put on top mind three into culture persons have an ontology of persons in addition to the ontology of mental. Ultimately what that does then is it gives us a coherent grip, and then I do a little play with the philosophers. In the preface, by the way, I slice down philosophy of mind, analytic philosophy of mind. I come back and argue, I actually did an inverted Wittgenstein, where if you actually trail my history, Wittgenstein is in one of the logical positives, does a picture theory of reality type stuff. It’s all about analytics. Then he develops language games. It’s like actually it’s the complex contextual flow of life.
I actually developed the contextual flow of life through justifications, which are very similar to Wittgensteinian language games. And then I zoomed back and said, oh, it’s humans that are building these fucking language games. That’s an ontological layer underneath ant minded animals, living organisms, material objects, all coming out of energy. And we’re actually in a place right now that we can then put all of that thread together and develop a coherent map of big history, resolve the enlightenment gap, solve the problem of psychology.
Damn, Jim. We can do that, that’s a big damn audacious task, and if we can get close to it, I think it’s worth 150 bucks. That’s a book.
Jim: I love it. And oh, by the way, we will be having a special, which actually we’ve talked about on the pre-roll. So you get 20% off by buying this book on Amazon.
Anyway, all right. Well, that’s amazing. I love the fact that you could actually do that. Again, I can’t stress to the audience enough how much heavy artillery is in this book. And Gregg just rattled it off in an entirely coherent summary in what? Two minutes. Amazing. So we’ve told the joke, now the punchline is what’s [inaudible 01:38:46] new vision of psychology?
Gregg: Lovely. So the new vision of psychology is that we would then enter into the world and people ask what psychology is. We say, “Hey, what’s the thing in the world that it’s about?” And I’m going to say, “It’s about mindedness. It’s about mindedness and animals and humans.” Okay. “What do you mean by that?” “Well, basically mind one, hey, look around, it’s functional awareness and responsivity.” Yes, organisms do that, but that’s biological behavior. Animals do it in a particular way, obviously. Aristotle saw it. We can see it. This is 4E cognition, by the way. Animals are embedded, they’re extended, they’re enacted, and they’re embodied. Yeah, that’s exactly right, unlike artificial intelligence. And what are they doing? They’re engaged in recursive relevance realization as they map paths of behavioral investment. We want to see, that we can study that scientifically.
It’s also the case that the miracle of subjective awareness, we’ll call this mind two, emerges somewhere in the animal kingdom. That’s a super cool thing. That’s still a bit of a mystery. It is hard for science to get a direct access because we observe behavior, that’s what we do as scientists, but we can certainly see it indirectly and we can model that. And in humans, it’s super key because there’s this whole other new information highway called mind three.
So we want human mindedness through mind 1, 2, 3, recognize that, and then bring in meta-theory to it that then says, “Hey, that mind one is doing investing. Mind two creates a subject. Us as humans connect subjects together. There’s influence matrix on self other, and then we justify our actions.” So what I’m going to do as a psychologist, I’m going to teach you mind 1, 2, 3. I’m going to teach you how to see it from the inside, that’s your psyche. And from the outside, I’ll give you the tree. So it’s coin, tree, mind 1, 2, 3. I’m going to set the table, the periodic table of behavior, and then enable you to solve the problem of psychology with a new ontology, a new way of talking about the world, that takes inside out, outside in, puts it together and dances very nicely.
Jim: Whoa. Great. And then you lay out a actual little ontology, a map of psychology, as an institution.
Gregg: Absolutely. So throughout the book, I talk about capital P psychology, like what do psychologists say that they are? Versus little P, which is the thing in the world, so mindedness versus A, the APA institution at in Washington DC. Well, what should the APA institution say that it is? It should say psychology’s three great branches. There’s basic psychology, which corresponds to animal mindedness. There’s human psychology, which is the science of human mindedness, which is a social science. Because of justification, it connects to things like anthropology, sociology, economics, and political science. It’s a totally different science. Psychology is not equivalent to human, it’s both animal. And because of the dynamics of human and justification, we should separate it off. Many psychologists academically, social, developmental, personality go into human psychology. The mind sciences really are basic psych, and then maybe we should even call them mind sciences, not necessarily psychology, but those are describing and explaining the way the world is.
There’s also people like me on my day job where I’m a clinician. You come and talk to me about your stressors and your difficulties, I have to have a model about what is optimal in the world, what’s suffering, and how am I going to position myself to move you? A professional psychologist, a psychological doctor, is a totally different set. So these are three great branches, basic, human and professional, or health service psychology. Of course, there’s applied systems in beneath that and other ethics and research knowledge that somebody would have, but that’s the basic layout of what I would argue the institution of psychology should be as its identity and structural organization.
Jim: All right. We have made it to the end. I want to thank Gregg Henriques for one of the most amazing intellectual rides I have ever taken, and I hope the audience will appreciate the amazing amount of work and thinking he’s put into it, and the blood, sweat, and tears to put it between two covers. So thank you very much, Gregg, for this exceedingly interesting three-part show.
Gregg: Jim, I want to thank you for the time. I really appreciate you poured your heart into reading this and tried to get as much as you could out of it. I deeply appreciate it. It’s been a joy to share this with you. And yeah, I hope the listeners get a lot.